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Gaining Skills

Purpose: As part of the Total Educational Plan the necessity to plan how you will demonstrate on your resume that you have specific skills that employers are looking for should be emphasized. Determining what type of desired skills may help you reach your eventual career goals will help you know what activities you may need to pursue now. Seek out experiences that will move you toward the type of work opportunities you are seeking. Be intentional in the development of these skills.

As a result of this activity you will be able to:

  • Recognize important skills that employers seek in successful candidates.
  • List the types of skills you hope to be able to have on your resume.
  • Describe the types of involvements that may help you develop desired skills.
  • Articulate the importance of demonstrating definable skills on your resume.


  1. Review the list of 12 Essential Skills for Success.
  2. Decide which ones you feel you can demonstrate at this point with items on your resume.
  3. Thinking about the types of career positions that you are seeking based on your values, interests, desires and experiences determine which of the skills you may wish to try and develop or strengthen on your resume.
  4. Brainstorm opportunities that may help you to engage in activities to help you continue your development.
  5. Create plans for various types of involvement.

Example Activities:

  • Work Experience
  • Internships (paid or unpaid)
  • Courses
  • Departmental activities (social or educational)
  • Specialized certificates or training programs
  • Research or specialized academic projects
  • Committees or work groups
  • Volunteer opportunities (on-campus or off-campus)
  • Performance groups or activities
  • Achievements in hobbies or interests

Example (from a student):

I saw that many jobs I was interested in wanted employees who knew how to conduct interviews for research. None of my professors for my classes needed help on research but I reached out to another professor in the department and got set up doing qualitative research! I’ve learned a lot and feel confident including this skill on my resume.

12 Essential Competencies Employers Seek in College Graduates (Michigan State University – Career Services)

1 Working in a Diverse Environment

Learning from people who are different from you-and recognizing your commonalities-is an important part of your education and preparation for the world you will join.

2 Managing Time and Priorities

Managing how you spend your time, and on what, is essential in today's world. Learn how to sort priorities so you stay in control of your life.

3 Acquiring Knowledge

Learning how to learn is just as important as the knowledge itself. No matter what your future holds, you'll continue to learn every day.

4 Thinking Critically

Developing solid critical thinking skills means you'll be confident to handle autonomy, make sound decisions, and find the connection between opportunities you have to learn and how those opportunities will affect your future.

5 Communicating Effectively

Developing listening, interpreting, and speaking skills is just as important as reading and writing.

6 Solving Problems

You may only have thought about problem solving when you're faced with a crisis. Understand the process and mind-set of successful problem-solving and you'll more easily handle the bigger challenges that come your way.

7 Contributing to a Team

In the workplace each person's contribution is essential to success. Having the ability to work collaboratively with others is vital. This includes identifying individual strengths (yours and others) and harnessing them for the group, building consensus, knowing when to lead and when to follow, and appreciating group dynamics.

8 Navigating Across Boundaries

Life is filled with boundaries-good and bad. Discover how to avoid the boundaries that become barriers so you don't hamper the ability to collaborate with other people.

9 Performing with Integrity

It only takes one bad instance to destroy years of good faith and good relationships. It's important to develop a code of ethics and principles to guide your life.

10 Developing Professional Competencies

The end of college is the beginning of a new education. Build on what you already know and keep learning new skills-your job will challenge you to grow and develop in ways you haven't imagined yet.

11 Balancing Work and Life

You've got a lot to accomplish in limited time. How do you get it all done and still stay sane? The key is maintaining balance among the different parts of your life.

12 Embracing Change

Just about every aspect of life is in a constant state of change. Sometimes it may seem that no sooner do you get caught up than you have to start all over again. No matter how you feel about change, you have to learn to deal with it.